Heads Update - 9/04/2020

Dear parents,

It has been so wonderful to have students back in school this week and we really appreciate your support, and the students’ adaptability and general brilliance, in working with us through our new systems and approaches during Transition Week to help us refine them for the start of term. There have been so many magical moments and positives over the past few days, as well as some blips and things for us to work on, but most of all it has been inspiring and a pleasure to welcome the BIS-NY community back together in-person and online. Thank you for your continued support and for partnering with us to secure a safe, exciting and broad education for all the children.

We look forward to spending time on Friday morning with our distance learners to help support them get ready for full term next week and also remind everyone else that there are NO in-person lessons tomorrow.

Most of our updates and information as we prepare for the new school year have, of course, focused on areas related to safety and logistics as that has been our top priority in working to reopen the school this autumn. We also, however, want to take the opportunity to share with you a Curriculum Update (see below) covering some other important innovations and changes on which we have been working to continue to strengthen and enhance our academic and educational provision. We look forward to sharing these new programs and opportunities with the students as well over the coming weeks, and are confident that they will help us ensure that learning at BIS-NY remains inspiring and dynamic.

I hope this update will provide you with a useful insight into some of the other development areas at school this year, and we look forward to being able to share more with you on the curriculum and approach in each year level at the Curriculum Evening on Tuesday 22nd September. This will, of course, be a virtual event and class teachers/ division heads will send out a zoom invite nearer the time for meetings which will take place that evening at 5:30pm.

Please also find below some other important information and reminders for the start of full term on Tuesday 8th September.

In the meantime, I wish everyone a safe and restful Labor Day weekend.

Jason Morrow

BIS-NY Emergency Communications System

At BIS-NY the safety and security of your children is our highest priority. Circumstances such as snow, ice or other emergency conditions may make it necessary to delay or cancel school, or dismiss students early. In addition, there may be other emergencies that arise which would make it impossible to open School, such as loss of electricity, heat or water. This is also the system we would use this year if we had to close the school unexpectedly for a Covid-19 related reason.

In order to provide you with critical information about such unanticipated events, the School uses an automated calling system that will simultaneously deliver a pre-recorded message to all emergency contact numbers that you have provided to the School.

Please be advised that we will be conducting a test of this emergency communications system on Thursday September 10th at 10:00am.

The School’s name will appear on your caller ID and the system will leave a message on your voicemail or answering machine and will redial in the event of no answer or a busy signal.

If you do not receive an automated message by 11:00am on Thursday, September 10th please contact the Front Desk at x201.

Always be sure that the School has your most current emergency contact telephone numbers on file. Please contact Sita at frontdesk@bis-ny.org with any changes.

We appreciate your cooperation as we work to provide the most effective method of emergency communications with our parents.

RUVNA Daily Screen reminders

This has been working really well and we appreciate that the vast majority of parents have submitted timely responses each morning. As we move to our regular earlier start times next week with arrivals starting from 8:15, we would reiterate the request that you ensure you have a reminder or alarm set on your phone to ensure that you submit a response by 7:45 each morning to enable senior staff to review responses before we go to the arrival points to welcome students.

If your child is not attending school on a particular day for non Covid 19 related reasons, please be sure to let the class teacher or mentor and Sita at the Front Desk know that as well before 7:45, so that we are not looking for those children during arrivals.

Student lunch orders

Please see below some notes/reminders on our new lunch ordering system:

  1. We suggest that you place orders on your computer vs the mobile app. Please visit https://menus.flikisdining.com/ and enter our school name to view the menu options for your child's division.

  2. Order deadline is each Wednesday at 2:00pm for the next week. No orders can be placed after this deadline. If you miss the deadline your child will be given the daily main entree for the following week.

  3. If you have problems placing an order, please contact Sita at the Front Desk x201 and she will promptly notify the catering team.

  4. Once you add the lunch choices to your Cart, please be sure to complete Checkout. If you have successfully placed your order, you should receive a confirmation email with your order details.

  5. Please review your Cart before checking out to ensure it is correct, and you can edit items ordered within the cart, you do not have to cancel and start the order from scratch.

  6. Please go into your child's profile that you set up and make sure that the correct Class/Year Group is selected. Some families have set up up their child's account with incorrect class info and this causes problems when the kitchen is trying to deliver the correct meals to different locations throughout the school.

  7. For the Lower School (Reception - Y6) going forward you will see an option to select milk to be delivered with your child's meal. Please select this option for each day if you want your child to have milk with their lunch.

  8. Please be sure to place orders for every day of the week. Some families placed orders for some days and not others.

  9. Please be sure that only order is placed for your child(ren). There were a few students who had two separate lunch orders placed, and in this case we are using the order that was submitted first.

  10. There will be an FAQ document added to the Nutrislice website next week that should help to answer any ordering questions.

Curriculum Update

2020 Examination Results for Upper Students

Our first cohort of IGCSE students have now completed their courses and we were so proud of their accomplishments when results were released over the summer. These students had to contend with so many challenges over the past year which make their excellent outcomes all the more impressive.

Overall, 40% of the grades achieved by BIS-NY candidates were the top grade of A* and 66% were at A*/A. We still don’t have the final statistics from Cambridge International for this year, but these results compare very favourably with outcomes for students internationally, as last year just under 16% of grades globally were at A* and 38% A*/A. Congratulations to our pioneer IGCSE students!

As the Upper School continues to grow we are delighted to be able to add two additional choices for the students at the International General Certificate Secondary Education level (IGCSE). The two new subjects are Computer Science and Drama, and we have our first students embarking on these courses starting next week. It is really important to us that we continue to provide students with the breadth of opportunities for study and learning in Upper, which are available across the school and look forward to working with them in these additional subject areas. For those not familiar with these qualifications, they were chosen by BIS-NY to offer students the best balance of breadth and depth of learning, alongside global recognition by all the leading colleges and universities.

PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education)

We have updated our curriculum for PSHE education to support the integration of new content which includes relationships education for the Lower School, relationships and sex education for the Middle and Upper School, and health education across the whole school. One key element of the latter is a greater emphasis on mental health and wellbeing which will be at the forefront of teaching and learning this year, both as a primary focus during Transition Week and then in lessons and mentor time throughout the year.

Racial awareness and social justice

This is an area we had agreed as a priority for the coming year and staff have had the opportunity to deepen our knowledge, enhance practices and improve skills in areas related to race, diversity, inclusion and equity. We are revising our curriculum to incorporate elements of Pollyanna’s racial literacy curriculum - a resource we think will be particularly useful in helping students to gain knowledge about race and identity in addition to nurturing self esteem and confidence for all children as they acquire the skills and awareness to engage in important and productive conversations about race and racism.

Skills for Learning

The Electives program has also been adapted for this year and we have added a new class, called Skills for Learning, to the timetable for students in MYP. The lesson slot, designated for one hour each week, will be used to help students develop skills in a variety of areas including executive functioning, note taking, study habits, digital responsibility, media literacy, public speaking, test preparation, and financial literacy.

CIDE for individual study

CIDE is a course that was introduced two years ago as a way for students to explore creativity and the arts in greater depth. The acronym stands for Creativity, Innovation, Depth, and Exploration. As students in the MYP will not be able to mix pods this year, it will not be possible to run CIDE courses as we have in the past. However, we still think this area of study is vital for students and are excited to have found a way to still give students the opportunity to engage in creativity, innovation, depth, and exploration. During CIDE time, students will now be participating in an independent study into an area of passion and we will be working with students during the first couple of weeks to decide on an area of interest and plan steps to take to study this more in depth. Some possible ideas could include learning an additional language, creating a podcast, learning how to code, studying sports history, writing a novel or short story, finding solutions to local or global issues, and more.


As we are not able to have our usual ensembles which involve students from different classes and year levels, we decided to take the opportunity to focus on two new areas of music making in Years 5 & 6. The students in these years will all have a chance to learn the ukulele and to be part of a pod percussion ensemble, and we hope to have opportunities later in the year to share performances of the students’ progress with you in either virtual or, if circumstance allow, in-person performances. The music department will be in touch with more details shortly for each class in Years 5 & 6.

For those learning or keen to start a string or woodwind instrument, we encourage you to consider individual or small group peri lessons. If you have any questions on the options, please contact Ms Viola in the music department.

There are also the two after school virtual opportunities below for those interested in a string instrument. The day and time for these will be arranged once they have an indication of interest and availability from students.

Prelude String Ensemble

Introducing a new musical experience at BISNY! The Music Department will provide a violin, viola, or cello to keep at home for this beginner-level virtual string ensemble with Ms. Willis and Ms. Saba-Hughes. We’ll meet after school on Zoom. No prior experience is necessary. Let’s make music together by learning about our instruments, creating sounds, and learning how to play with friends in an ensemble. We’ll play together as a large group as well as break into smaller groups to play duets and trios.

Allegro String Ensemble

Introducing a new musical experience at BISNY! The Music Department will provide a violin, viola, or cello to keep at home for this intermediate-to-advanced virtual string ensemble with Ms. Willis and Ms. Saba-Hughes. We’ll meet after school on Zoom. Students should have some prior knowledge of playing their instrument. Let’s make music together by experimenting with different styles, rhythms, and sounds. We’ll have opportunities to create, compose, and share music with each other. We’ll play together as a large group as well as break into smaller groups to play duets and trios.

The Library - a note from our Librarian

Whilst the library as a physical space won’t be used by the children this year, library lessons will still take place each week for all children from Reception to Year Six. The children will be able to access all the books they are interested in reading and the aim is to continue to proactively promote a love of books and the written word at every opportunity.

Library lessons will continue to reflect what is being taught in class and will start on Wednesday 2nd September. So how will children get their books?

Reception, Year One and Two:

Class teachers will be issued a box of library books for a week (two per child) and these will be assigned or shared as necessary. When I visit the class for their lesson, I’ll talk to the children and see what they are interested in reading and then I’ll adjust the selection as necessary. Later in the year, Year Two will be taught how to reserve their books online.

Year Three through Six:

The children will be able to reserve two books online for two weeks at a time using our online catalog. Click this link to explore the catalog from home. Once a class has reserved their books, they’ll be delivered to them. Please note that the children will not be able to access the Follet E-books in the catalog until they have received their personal logins from me.

Each child now has a login to our central catalog that gives them the ability to access our entire collection of books, reserve what they like and track their own reading.

The whole process of logging in and retrieving books will be discussed during our first lessons together over the next few weeks.

Year 7 and above:

All students have access to the online catalog and they can search for any material they are interested in. I would encourage the students to email me with their written requests and I will deliver the books to their form tutor for collection.